“Can we watch a movie?” and “Can we play outside?” Those are the two most asked questions in my house full of four energetic kids. So, you can imagine my surprise when a third question made it into the mix on day– “Can we do family history?”
The excitement had begun a night earlier when I decided to log onto FamilySearch.org and check out my family tree. My daughters, ages eight and five, crowded on my bed to watch. I was surprised to see their immediate engagement. After spotting their names on my family fan chart (a colorful visual showing my family five generations back), they wanted to click further and make new connections to watch our chart grow.
We added the names of two living aunts, looked up birth and death dates of deceased aunts and uncles we didn’t even know existed, uploaded some pictures and stories of my grandparents, and just explored the endless information available at our fingertips.
After a few keystrokes, THEY started directing our online journey, helping me to navigate charts, pointing out pages that needed additional information, and choosing the pictures and stories to upload. Did I mention they were only five and eight years old?
Three hours later when my husband came in to kick them out to go to bed, it was clear something amazing had happened. They, and in turn, I, had become invested. And, then the comment from my eight year old that has stuck with me ever since, “When I get a laptop, I want to use it to do family history!”
For me, that remark has been profound. In the eyes of that innocent 8-year-old girl, ‘what else would you need a laptop for?’ In the eyes of that 8-year-old girl, FamilySearch.org is fun. In the eyes of that innocent 8-year-old girl, family history work is important.
Like any parent, I worry about the world my kids are growing up in. And, I have extra heartburn when I think about my girls. All you have to do is turn on the news to be reminded of the evil and tragedy that surround us and threaten to strike any family at any time.
The laptop comment from my daughter is proof to me that family makes a big difference. The excitement that she has for doing family history work almost seems intuitive. I didn’t teach her that. She and my five year old just naturally have it. Their knowledge of technology, their eagerness to show me how to use it, and the happiness in which they do all of this, I believe, is part of who they are at their core. I believe God made them special. I believe this generation, especially the girls, are made of some ‘strong stuff’ to withstand the whirlwinds that will come their way in life.
My girls share my faith that there is a very real power for good in linking our living family to family members who have gone on before us. But, unlike me, they don’t think of doing work on FamilySearch.org as a chore. They don’t think of it as a task to check off on a list of things to do. To them, it’s fun. It’s something they can help teach mom how to do. And, it ranks right up there with watching a movie and playing outside.
What a lesson for Mom! To see family history through the eyes of a child is to see it with new purpose. I mean, isn’t it what laptops were made for anyway?